Trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak's New Asia Rising was presented a torrid run, but still showed fighting qualities behind smart debutant Can Do in the Class Four Rambler Channel Handicap (1,200m) on Sunday at Sha Tin.
The progressive youngster was a fading 10th last start in February behind Super Horse after prompting the pace from gate 14 and copping a check 200m out over 1,400m, but had shown good improvement on his opening four runs over the straight 1,000m, 1,200m, 1,400m and 1,600m.
With regular rider Howard Cheng Yu-tin on the suspended list, Zac Purton was called into action and he was supported in the dying stages from $160 to $100. He sprung cleanly and was hustled to challenge for the lead from gate 12 early on with Can Do and Regal Army, dropped back to settle a length back in third at the 600m, worked to second three deep at the 400m and lost second in the final 20m to Peri Peri Saffron.
The three-year-old Australian-bred is the only starter from unproven and multiple-placed Red Ransom stallion Markane, mated to Made Of Gold mare Via Smytzer, a winner of four races from 1,050m to 1,650m. New Asia Rising is also half-brother to two winners from as many starters, including the honest and consistent Prime Score, a former Hong Kong performer who notched two wins over 1,400m and 1,600m and 12 placings from 26 starts.
Like his sibling, who came into his own at his second season of racing, New Asia Rising will get better with more exposure and maturity and should be one that will turn out to be a bread-and-butter performer for his connections.
Elsewhere, the Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained Trend Master produced a huge effort in defeat behind The Peak in the Class Three Crooked Harbour Handicap (1,200m) and looks a winner waiting to happen.
Trend Master didn't fair too badly when finishing up sixth or seventh best in his opening three starts, staying on when a distant sixth behind promising G-One Winning last month over 1,400m.
Nonetheless, in a field which included the up-and-comers The Peak, Fionn's Treasure and Sterling City, Trend Master was unwanted at 44-1 odds with Keith Yeung Ming-lun's three-pound claim.
He was ridden along early on to stay in touch, switched four deep approaching the final bend, cornered in widest out before finishing up nicely to go under by only 1 ?-lengths to The Peak.
Prior to his arrival, the Irish import had produced seven runs as a two-year-old under the guidance of Jim Bolger for a maiden win on a good-to-yielding track over 1,200m at the Curragh and five placings up to 1,400m.
The four-year-old is by Irish 200 Guineas winner Batchelor Duke, who is represented by the winners Hinyuen Paladin (three at 1,200m) and Racing Reward (once at 1,200m from three starts) from his five local performers.